Congratulations to sdebrango, whose Flank Steak on Texas Toast with Chimichurri won this week's contest for Your Best Flank Steak, earning her big prizes from Viking, OXO and Tiny Prints, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!
Q&A with sdebrango
- Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
- My mother has been the biggest influence and the person that shaped how I think about and work with food. I remember watching her in the kitchen. She made just about everything from scratch. She made pasta by hand, no machines and it was the best I have ever had. Because I saw my mother always cooking fresh homemade food, I like to do the same.
- What's your least favorite food?
- Organ meats of all kinds and overtly fishy seafood.
- What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
- Braised short ribs in red wine, mashed potatoes, haricots verts with shallots. It was so good!
- Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
- This is so embarrassing. Years ago I burned up my kitchen. Had just bought a new home, the kitchen had an electric stove (I had always used a gas stove), my in-laws were coming for dinner. I was making chicken stock, and I had to run some errands and pick up my daughter so I did a very stupid thing. I thought I could leave the stock simmering while I was out and when I got home it would be done. Well, big mistake, instead of putting it on low heat I put it on high. As I turned onto my street I saw fire trucks and as I got closer I saw it was my house. When I pulled into my driveway I saw my stock pot on my front lawn and the blackened remnants of the chicken a few feet away. My front door was broken down and my kitchen was blackened and water logged. We ate out that night.
- What is your idea of comfort food?
- A roasted chicken with mashed potatoes or my mother's pasta fagiole (I have tried to copy how she made it and have never been able to.).
- Apron or no apron?
- Depends. When I bake I wear an apron, not when I cook.
- What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
- I love Babette's Feast, watching her prepare that amazing meal was stunning and the change that came over the dinner guests while they were eating was so beautiful.
- If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
- Even though I was very young when my Grandfather died I still remember how he loved food, so I would love the chance to cook for him.
- You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
- A. Alone
- When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
- A. Clean as I cook
Shop the Story
I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando. I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.